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A gourmet-wilderness banquet on Kangaroo Island

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A beachside cocktail soiree with a James Bond twist, “table surfing” events in islanders’ homes and a degustation meal in an old shearing shed are among the diverse events planned to lure visitors to Kangaroo Island during FEASTival.

The festival, which seeks to highlight the island’s heritage, produce and wild beauty, will this year take place from May 1-8.

It has been running annually for four years, during which time it has grown from a small two-day celebration into an eight-day festival that attracts people from throughout South Australia and interstate, with more than 30 individual events planned in 2015.

FEASTival creator Nick Hannaford’s KI roots go way back. He grew up on the island, where his grandfather James Holden bought a sheep farm which later became the site of Cliff House, built by Nick’s architect father Ian in the 1960s.

After leaving and forging a successful career in events management interstate, Nick Hannaford returned to the island.

“I thought there was nothing really capturing the essence of the island as I remembered it … with my event management experience and love of food and love of Kangaroo Island, I thought I had to give it a go.

“Kangaroo Island has come such a long way with all its fantastic food and wine and beverage products.”

Cliff House, which overlooks Snelling Beach and is now one of the Hannafords’ Lifetime Private Retreats holiday properties, will host a FEASTival pop-up event titled A View to Kill. With a round bedroom and sunken cushioned pit, the house is described as “eccentric”, a building that could be a set in a James Bond film – hence, the afternoon pop-up event will begin with a Bond-like character appearing from the surf to serve guests martinis.

“Foodies can sometimes take themselves a bit too seriously, but we can have fun with it, too,” Hannaford says. “Rachel, my [chef] sister, is doing food with a retro theme – everything from devils on horseback to bombe Alaska.”

Stephanie-Alexander-&-Kate-Sumner 4

Chefs Stephanie Alexander and Kate Sumner.

Chef and author Stephanie Alexander (The Cook’s Companion) is the “face” of this year’s FEASTival, which will open with a sit-down dinner dubbed The Enchanted Garden created by Alexander and KI chef Kate Sumner.

It will be one of the more formal events on the program, but Hannaford says the festival is not just for dedicated foodies. Among the more casual experiences on offer are Table Surfing events, which are hosted in the private homes of island identities and cater for between 10 and 30 guests.

Other events include a gin master-class at Kangaroo Island Spirits at Cygnet River; a “Hothouse” family day at the Kingscote wharf with food and wine stalls, cooking demonstrations and a farmers’ market; a picnic at the Island Pure Sheep Dairy featuring local produce such as lamb, free-range geese, sheep-milk haloumi, smoked barramundi, olives and sticky figs; and a progressive “mystery dinner” celebrating the island’s Ligurian honey and featuring live Italian music.

FEASTival also features a Breakfast with the Birds. Beginning before dawn, it will see participants escorted by torchlight to a secret location where they can watch the sunrise and listen to the birds awakening before enjoying a bush breakfast.

“People can’t see where they are until the light starts to show and then they see they are in this wonderful location right by the water – it’s a bird sanctuary,” Hannaford says.

“We create an environment that we hope people will connect to.”

While events are scattered around the island, most of the night-time activities are in or near Penneshaw (where the ferry docks), Kingscote and the north coast.

Penneshaw---Kangaroo-Island

Penneshaw, Kangaroo Island.

Hannaford says holding FEASTival at the start of May means the island’s tourism season, which peaks in summer, can be pushed out a little further.

“But also I chose May because Kangaroo Island takes on a new lease of life as far as the wind really drops off here. January, February and March it’s so windy that the wind can stop you doing things outside.

“It’s not unusual in May and the end of April to get beautiful still nights where there’s not a drop of wind … it gives us more opportunity to do events in the wilderness and other outdoor places.

“I really want to capture that wilderness side of the island.”

The full FEASTival program is online. Event sponsor SeaLink is offering travel and accommodation deals during the festival. Visitors to the island can also find a wide range of apartment and cottage-style accommodation listings on sites such as Stayz and Kangaroo Island Holiday Accommodation.

My backyard: Kangaroo Island shares local artist Janine Mackintosh’s tips for things to see and do on Kangaroo Island all year round.

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